The term ‘child custody’ indicates the rights and duties shared by parents with regards to caring for their children. The term ‘visitation’ on the other hand refers to how both parents will meet their kids and spend time with them.
It is suggested that a couple with children, filing for divorce in California, hire an experienced and reputable child custody lawyer. The attorney can have a detailed discussion with the client and analyze their specific case by focusing on the available facts.
These typically include:
1. the nature of the relationship between each parent and the children (till date)
2. a comprehensive analysis of any key issues that relate to the kids’ safety, health, education and overall welfare
3. proof of neglect or abuse
4. an assessment of the existing status quo and planning of the future by taking into consideration the best interest of the child
Visitation Orders In California
According to the California Legislature, the state courts shall prioritize the health, welfare and safety of the children while making custody or visitation related decisions. The state also has additional public welfare policy that guarantees consistent and frequent contact between children and both parents. This law encourages both partners to share all rights and duties associated with child rearing. It is important to understand that custody decisions are not dependent on a parent’s lifestyle, marital status, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
The state of California offers these 4 types of visitation orders:
According to child custody legal experts, it is a good idea for parents to create a comprehensive visitation plan in order to avoid any confusion and conflicts. This means creating a visitation schedule that has the date/time details for children to meet their parents. These types of visitation schedules generally include vacations, holidays and special occasions such as birthdays, father’s day etc.
Unlike scheduled visitation orders, reasonable visitation orders may not always have every single detail regarding the visits. These orders will probably be open-ended which means that parents have the liberty to work out timings and dates mutually and as per their convenience. Such plans work quite smoothly when separated spouses share a friendly relationship are comfortable communicating and being flexible with each other.
The employment of supervised visitation is usually done in two kinds of situations. It is commonly used when the court is doubtful about the sincerity of the visiting parent and feels that they cannot be completely trusted as far as the safety of the child is concerned. The lack of trust might be because the parent has previously been charged with a sexual offense or violent crime. Other factors could also contribute to the court taking this decision.
In the second situation, there may have been an estrangement between the visiting parent and the child due to some reasons. For this reason, the two require supervised visitation, at least for a certain period of time, till they get comfortable in each other’s company.
A supervised visitation order may ultimately turn into a scheduled or reasonable visitation arrangement.
The option of no visitation is exercised when a visit to the parent, even under supervision, might prove to be emotionally or physically dangerous for the child. In such cases, the court decides that it is best for the children and parent to be in absolutely no contact.
Besides custody orders, judges also usually draft child support orders. Custody and child support orders are separate. Hence, a parent cannot refuse their partner from seeing the child just because they aren’t providing the child support ordered by the court.
Maya Shulman, Esq.
Shulman Family Law Group